Small BusinessWritten by Jason Ubay On 10 November 2011
Old school men’s barbershop opens in Honolulu’s Chinatown

Mojo Barbershop, a barbershop geared towards today’s fashionable man, recently opened in Honolulu’s Chinatown. TVs play Sportscenter and customers can read magazines like Monocle, Playboy and Contrast. It’s also one of the few places that does a straight razor shave.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Mojo Barbershop will be giving a 30 percent discount to retired and active military service members today, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 to 12.

Husband and wife owners Marian Lee and Matt Leo lived in Portland, Ore. for 10 years. While there, Leo frequented a neighborhood barber shop, had a regular barber and became friends with him. When they moved back to Hawaii in 2009, his options were limited to chains like Supercuts or a salon, so the couple decided to open a men’s barbershop to fill this need.

Although the shop just opened, it’s got a worn-in feel to it. The barber pole outside is a clear identifier. Inside are many antique items: a antique barber chair from the 1920s, which the owners found on Maui; dozens of small black and white photos of old Hawaii pinned to a corkboard; and an old, green rotary phone found on eBay, which surprisingly still works and serves as the office phone. Pinstripe artist Colin Kunishige painted the menu freehand on the window to add authenticity. On the back wall, local artist Kamea Hadar painted a mural of a woman in a white dress peeking over her left shoulder.

There’s also some modern touches. In addition to the flat screen TVs, there’s a dimly-lit back room with a recliner for hand and foot detailing, or a more masculine way of saying a manicure and pedicure. Mojo is also the only store in Hawaii carrying mens skincare and shaving products from Baxter of California, Malin+Goetz and Grant’s Golden Brand Pomade.

It currently staffs four barbers, including Kalid Rashad of Kaliq Designs, and Solo Kahili, who not only cuts hair but is an expert at braids.

Lee likes the Chinatown location. “It reminds me of a little bit of Portland or even parts of New York,” she says. “Just the grittiness, all the different types of people and walks of life. It’s close to downtown as well, so all the businessmen can come here after work or their lunch break.”

After opening on Nov. 2, Lee says business has been good and clientele has ranged from a four-year-old to a white-haired downtown business executive. Women are welcome for a haircut as well, but once inside, you’ll see it’s definitely a hangout for the guys.

Mojo Barbershop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with late hours until 11 p.m. on First Fridays. It currently serves alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays, and it has applied for a full liquor license.

Mojo Barbershop
1157 Bethel St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Twitter: @mojobarbershop

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Managing Editor, Hawaii Business magazine. He's also representing the mag on Facebook and Twitter at @hawaiibusiness. You can follow him on Twitter at @jubay.

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